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Disability Discrimination at lunchtime?

Eir23Eir23 Posts: 19
edited 14. Oct 2019, 10:05 in Chat to our Helpline Team
Hi
I'm looking for some advice as to whether myself and my friend who both have RA were discriminated against at lunchtime.

We had booked a table at a gastropub which we frequently visit. On arrival we were taken to a table in the bar area with two sagging armchairs which were unsuitable for dining, as we could not sit upright to eat and the table was at chest level. All other tables have normal dining chairs.

We asked to move due to both having RA, the manager came and flung a dining chair by the table, we said we needed two chairs (plus this chair was in the way of access to a conservatory which had two free tables for two, they had reservation cards on them but he could have swapped the tables).

The manager said they were busy and clearly did not want to help, we sat for another 20 minutes until the waiter came to tell us there were no other tables available at that time. I advised we would therefore have to leave and requested the HO details, at which point the manager came to speak to us.

I advised him I thought It was a possible case of disability discrimination and that when booking a table at a restaurant it is not unreasonable to expect adequate seating. He advised they don't usually book out the table we were given. We were also not offered a suitable table at a later time. As we were about to leave a table of 8 left to which he said you can sit on the corner there! We sat down but decided to leave as were both feeling uncomfortable at this point.

I would appreciate some advice please?

Thank you

Comments

  • JuttleJuttle Posts: 20
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Well, that sounds like a pub that doesn’t deserve to be busy at any time of day! When you booked the table did you mention that you had specific requirements? Is it obvious that you’re both disabled, crutches, sticks, etc? In a previous post on here I described a recent family gathering at a pub where my daughter requested a higher chair as I’m on crutches and have similar problems to you. Presumably you can guess what arrived, it always happens wherever we go and has become a bit of a family joke with me trying to get in a highchair! I’ve always made a joke of my condition which gives other family members carte blanch to take the mickey!

    When your pub was made aware of your problems I would have expected them to offer a more suitable table and seating. Given that they were busy it might have meant a wait until a suitable table became free. If you’d made the pub aware beforehand, I’d expect to be shown to a suitable table on arrival. Did you explain your needs when you booked the table? Just telling whoever answered the phone that you have arthritis isn’t enough as people who’ve not experienced it have no idea of what you need. If you both went in with various limbs in plaster your needs are obvious but someone with “a bit of a limp” isn’t considered to be in need of anything more that an able bodied customer!

    I’m starting to waffle now so I’m going to shut up, but, from what you’ve said I’d guess that you were considered to be nothing more than difficult customers. If the pub was made aware of your requirements beforehand in sufficient detail to understand then yes, you were discriminated against.

    Either way, I wouldn’t be returning there any time soon!
    Bob
  • Mike1Mike1 Posts: 888 ✭✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Trying to prove discrimination is not easy and I agree with Juttle that you should have made the place aware of your specific needs before arrival, if you did then you may have a case. On the VERY rare occasion that I get to go out for a meal (maybe once a year as it is a logistic nightmare, relies on my Sister, and I feel uncomfortable anyway in social situations where I do not know the people ) I make sure that I can get into the premises and up to the table, mind you I am in a wheelchair so don't need the provision of a suitable chair as I take mine with me!
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,977 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Like Juttle and Mike1 I'm just an ordinary forum member not one of the Helpline team but I'm in agreement with them. You may well have had no problems on previous visits and it might be unusual for anyone to be offered saggy chairs but, unless you told them / reminded them of your difficulties beforehand, they are not discriminating at all just treating you as they would anyone else.

    If the tables in the conservatory were reserved then they were reserved, end of. Perhaps those customers had specified those tables. Also, once available, you were offered a table for seven. If there were only two of you that would have meant the restaurant losing five covers so they were clearly going the extra mile in the end.

    I'd just chalk it up to experience. In future make sure any restaurant is aware of any needs you have in advance, especially if those needs are not obviously visible.

    I was at a new-for-me restaurant on Saturday. I intended to leave my wheelchair by the door as I usually do but, once I saw how low the chairs were, I opted to stay in my wheelchair and so had a terrific meal and great conversations whereas, if I'd opted for the low chairs on offer, I'd never have managed to eat half the food and the others might have been concerned for me too. A friend, not disabled but short, brings a cushion with her to restaurants. Another, with arthritis, brings her own cutlery. I think, with arthritis, we need to grow fairly thick skins if we are to enjoy life to the full.
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • daffy2daffy2 Posts: 1,713
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Possibly, but I think it's primarily bad customer service, and before you wheel out the big guns perhaps consider dealing with the issues on that basis, since you say you frequently visit the place. Have you had problems before, and do you want to be able to go there again ?
    Able-bodied diners would quite likely not be happy with armchairs at a dining table, so you've not been singled out on that front! It sounds as if whoever took the booking didn't make note of/ask the right questions about your requirements(I'm assuming you mentioned them at the time), or if they did that info wasn't acted on. If it was a table 'we don't normally use' then there may have been overbooking - again not primarily a discrimination issue.
    In your place I would either contact the venue and ask to speak to a manager, or write a letter(e- or snail mail), then calmly go through what happened, and your disappointment as previous customers. If you are constructive(suggesting solutions) and non-confrontational, there is an opportunity for this to be turned into something positive for both you and the venue.
  • daffy2daffy2 Posts: 1,713
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Sorry, should have said I'm an ordinary forum member like Sticky, not one of the Helpline team.
  • helpline_teamhelpline_team Posts: 1,935
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Dear Eir23

    Thank you for your posting on the forum. I am sorry to hear that you had such a difficult time and I can see that you have had responses from other forum members who understand your experience.
    The Equality and Human Rights Commission promote and uphold equality and human rights ideals and laws. They have guidance about using business that offer goods, facilities and services to the public. You can access this on the link https://equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance?who=individual
    You can also contact them for advice about discrimination on their advice phoneline on 0808 800 0082 (9am to 7pm weekdays, 10am to 2pm Saturday). There is more information on this service on their website on https://equalityhumanrights.com/en/contact-us/equality-advisory-and-support-service
    I hope that this is helpful. You are also very welcome to call us here on our free, confidential, helpline if you would like to talk things through with one of our helpline team.

    Best Wishes
    Dawn
    Helpline Advisor
    Helpline Team
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